Understanding Military Bolt-action Rifles


One of the not-so-easy parts of collecting, or cataloging, military bolt-action rifles from all over the world is understanding all the guns, makers, variations, and when alterations or changes were made. To search the internet or purchase a volume on each one would take hours and would be cost prohibitive. What is a collector to do? After years of frustration, I found the go-to volume on this subject.

Bolt Action Military Rifles of the World was published in 2009 by Mowbray Publications in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. It is written by arms scholar and publisher Stuart Mowbray and arms expert Joe Puleo. The two of them systematically and by country went through all of the bolt-action arms made for each country and organized them into chapters that are easily found and quite easy to figure out. As with all of Mowbray’s publications, the photography is clear and crisp with the details and various markings shown. There are also photographs of many of the bayonets that go with each rifle which helps with identifying the proper bayonet to go with a specific arm.

But it isn’t just a book to easily identify the rifle you might have. There is a section that breaks down the evolution of the bolt-action and makes the history and technology understandable to just about anyone.

One of the most popular rifles use the Mauser system and there is also a chapter that breaks down each example made from the Model 1871 to the K98k used during World War II and has an image of each one as well as the key features and updates important to each model.

Markings are also important to understanding the particular rifle you might have. The arsenal markings are all shown and described making it east to know where a rifle was built and can also help with dating it. One example would be Japanese markings. There is a page with all the arsenal marks and what they mean, as well as the Kana characters used to mark a series or prefix on a serial number. Each character is shown with the series number. There are also notes on where to look for serial or assembly numbers to see if a rifle is all matching. To do this work for each rifle used in the world would take forever, but here it is all listed in one book.

I have just about worn my first copy out but luckily, I bought another and have it on the shelves as a backup. This book has literally saved me hours of research and time. If you collect bolt-action rifles, this book is a must have.

Many fine examples of the bolt-action rifles similar to those published in Mowbray’s book will be in our September 29 Historic Arms & Militaria online auction.


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